Appellate court upholds life sentence

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Duane Turner will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering a Ball State student in 1994. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claims that his sentence was unconstitutional and that his attorney was ineffective.

Turner and Larry Newton went to the BSU campus with the intent of robbing someone. They picked up Chris Coyle and offered him a ride home. They demanded money from him, forced him out of the car, and then Newton shot Coyle once in the back of the head. Turner then shot Coyle in the shoulder. He died from the first shot.

Turner was convicted of felony murder and other charges, but only the murder conviction and a conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury are at issue on this appeal. The jury was unable to recommend life imprisonment without parole, so the trial court held a sentencing hearing. The judge sentenced Turner to life without parole.

Turner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his sentence as unconstitutional based on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), and alleging that he received ineffective trial and appellate assistance. The same lawyer represented him at both stages.

The post-conviction court denied relief; the Court of Appeals affirmed. It relied on Holmes v. State, 820 N.E.2d 136 (Ind. 2005), in which the Indiana Supreme Court held the verdict returned during the guilt phase sufficed to establish that “the jury found, beyond a reasonable doubt, aggravating circumstances” rendering Holmes eligible for the death penalty. Apprendi’s requirement that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt” was met by the nature of Holmes’ convictions, the high court held.

Here, the jury unanimously found Turner guilty of murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The jury necessarily found the existence of one statutory aggravating circumstance alleged by the state, that Turner intentionally killed Coyle while committing or attempting to commit robbery, Judge Patricia Riley wrote in Duane Turner v. State of Indiana, 18A05-1112-PC-697.

The appellate judges found Turner’s attorney did not provide ineffective assistance at the trial level or appellate level, except for one issue on appeal. They found his attorney ineffective by not appealing his attempted robbery conviction on double jeopardy grounds. The judges remanded with instructions to reduce the conviction to a Class B felony.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues